Art by Sofie Koski

By London Lyle
Sopris Sun Intern

On Aug. 23, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency (CORE) hosted the Green Electronics Showcase, where several different vendors demonstrated their green alternatives to carbon-heavy machinery used in and around the community. CORE has made electrification a primary focus for its programming.

Jami McMannes, CORE’s public relations and communications manager, said, “We are delighted with the representation we had from our sponsors, partners and attendees [at] the Green Electronics Showcase. Our partners demonstrated how to make the switch to electrification and how small changes can make a big impact on the future of our environment. Ranging from electric snow blowers to bikes to induction cooktops, the electronics that were featured were not only innovative and inspiring, they were also fun!”

One piece of green technology in particular is generating a lot of buzz: robotic lawn mowers. Colin Lowe, the business development manager at Kress Outdoor Power Equipment, said of the Showcase, “The community was able to go into different booths and have multiple conversations about different electrification options in their area. Being able to bring all of our electric, battery-powered hand tools to homeowners and to show them robotic lawnmowers was a very worthwhile event for us to be a part of.”

Lowe emphasized that gas-powered tools are harmful to the environment. According to a 2015 report from the Environmental Protection Agency, gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment accounted for 24%−45% of all nonroad gasoline emissions in the United States in 2011.

“If we’re able to remove the exorbitant amount of gasoline-powered hand tools and convert those to battery, we are having a dramatic impact on the environment,” Lowe said. “Not to mention the extreme benefit for the user of these tools,” citing the harmful impacts of breathing emissions for the user of a gas-powered tool.

Another type of pollution that is reduced in communities when they make the switch to robotielectric lawn mowers is noise pollution. This change is championed among environmentalists and golfers alike. “People love to be in serene areas,” Lowe commented. “Nobody — especially on a golf course — likes to hear a noise during their backswing. So being able to reduce those types of loud obtrusions is what we’re doing here.”

According to Lowe, local golf courses are already adopting their electric mower technology, which is also automated. Once a person has mapped the area they would like to mow with a special tool that uses satellite technology, the Kress mower can move around that perimeter without an operator, similar to a Roomba vacuum, cutting labor costs in addition to noise pollution.

Kress sells their robotic lawnmowers and other battery-powered tools like hedge trimmers, chainsaws, backpack blowers and snow blowers to both individuals and companies. All products use the same rechargeable batteries across machines, making them interchangeable. 

As far as costs go, making the switch to electric-powered tools and machinery can ultimately save a person money. Lowe said that individuals can expect to save up to $900 on gasoline per lawn mower if they make the switch, depending on how much they use it. “We’re changing the game dramatically, and I hope that the momentum keeps up,” he concluded.